American Idol 2023 premiere: What to expect on Season 21

NEW YORK — The search for the next American Idol begins anew Sunday night with the season 21 premiere episode on ABC.

Superstar judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie are back together for a sixth season. They’ve become like family, says Perry.

“This is our sixth season. We love our job. We love each other. We have so much respect for each other and respect for the performance,” Perry said during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Emmy winner Ryan Seacrest is also back as the host of the legendary music competition.

The nationwide search began with American Idol auditions in Las Vegas, Nashville and New Orleans and contestants vying for a Hollywood Week ticket.

Richie said what really changed the equation is the in-person interviews that happen online before the auditions, which means people come from all over the world, including cities and communities that Idol couldn’t reach before.

“That means it’s for a town in Arkansas that we’ve never heard of,” Richie said.

And that means the pool is filled with more talent than ever before.

“Every time we start a season, we’re like, ‘Okay, well, there’s no more talent in America because we picked them all,’ and we literally get to the middle of filming and we’re like, ‘Oh my God, hold on tight because this is the best of the best of the best,'” added Perry.

Ahead of the premiere, Idol released a preview video of one of those contestants, 16-year-old Haven Madison. She grew up on a tour bus with her father, who was the lead singer of a Christian band. He plays guitar during her audition. In a daring move, she sang an original song called “Fifteen.”

After Haven’s performance, the judges were ready to take her to the recording studio!

“Her songwriting ability is amazing,” said Lionel Richie. “You can be anything you want to be.”

Among the contestants is Kya Monee, who makes an emotional return to the idol stage. Kya auditioned for season 19 and appeared alongside Willie Spence during Hollywood Week. They performed a duet of Rihanna’s “Stay” and made all three judges cry.

Spence, this season’s runner-up, died in a car accident last October. Inspired by Spence to try again, Monee posted on Instagram that auditioning this season brought her to tears.

The premiere offers a mix of gripping stories, funny moments (like when Luke Bryan meets Luke Bryan) and of course some incredible performances from these aspiring singers who are hoping to become the next idol.

The journey begins Sunday at 8/7c on ABC and will stream the next day on Hulu.

Complete list of previous American Idol winners

2002 – Kelly Clarkson

2003 – Ruben Studard

2004 – Fantasia Barino

2005 – Carrie Underwood

2006 – Taylor Hicks

2007 – Jordin Sparks

2008 – David Koch

2009 – Kris Allen

2010 – Lee DeWyze

2011 – Scotty McCreery

2012 – Phillip Phillips

2013 – Candice Glover

2014 – Caleb Johnson

2015 – Nick Fradiani

2016 – Trent Harmon

2018 – Maddie Poppe

2019 – Laine Hardy

2020 – Sam only

2021 – Chayce Beckham

2022 – Noah Thompson

Copyright © 2023 All rights reserved. American Idol 2023 premiere: What to expect on Season 21

Alley Einstein

Alley Einstein is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Alley Einstein joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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